In its report the Office for Nuclear Regulation says UK sites have found and made improvements to boost safety following events in Japan.

All the findings are contained in the UK national ‘stress test’ report submitted to the European Council (EC) today (January 4).

However, the report while finding ‘no major weakness’ also states improvement must be on-going and focuses on the need to protect coastal power stations from possible future flooding.

The report also tells the UK’s nuclear industry to consider possible event which ‘have only remote chances’ of taking place in the UK to increase their protection.

The EC requested a targeted reassessment of safety at all European nuclear power plants based on the circumstances which occurred at Fukushima: extreme natural events challenging the plant safety functions and leading to a severe accident.

Office for Nuclear Regulation senior nuclear safety inspector, John Donald, said: “To date, no fundamental weaknesses in design and resilience have been identified at UK nuclear power plants, and lessons are being learnt from Fukushima to enhance safety, in line with our regulatory philosophy of continuous improvement.

“Fukushima provided the world a unique opportunity to learn from a serious nuclear accident.

“No matter how high our standards of safety, the quest for improvement must never stop.

“Work is already under way to improve safety at UK sites, such as bolstering flood defences and enhancing coolant supplies.

“We have also asked licensees of UK nuclear power stations to consider resilience against events that have only remote chances of happening in the UK.”

EDF Energy conducted stress tests of each of its eight UK nuclear power stations and this work is reflected in today’s report.

EDF Energy’s managing director of nuclear generation, Dr Andy Spurr, said: “The ONR report concludes the UK plants are robust to design basis events and safe to continue operations.

“We are an industry that learns from experience in order to improve safety performance and safety margins.

“As such, through our review we have identified ways to enhance further our current robust position and ONR has reflected this in its report. We are already implementing these improvements in line with the ONR’s expectations.”

Luke Walsh

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